Being in Iraq at this time as the battle for Mosul is raging is both concerning and reassuring for John and me. The reassurance we sense is that any and all of the refugee relief aid we as a ministry have brought to this area for the past 2+ years has been MORE than well-spent. We’re so incredibly grateful to many who have given and continue to give to this crisis through the ministry. Thank you for making a difference.
The concern is that with 3.2 million already displaced Iraqis and refugees from Syria, the new battle for Mosul has caused MORE refugees to pour out of the region looking for immediate shelter and aid. The crisis which seemingly couldn’t get worse – just did.
According to the UN High Council for Relief (UNHCR), the UN Relief Agency, since the beginning of the Mosul offensive on 10/17/16, some 47,730 more Iraqis have been displaced. On November 11, reports are that this number DOUBLED the previous week making that number over 95,000 in two weeks. As a comparison, this is more than the entire population of Redding, California. Imagine everyone in that city on foot fleeing.
Many we’ve spoken with here are estimating the numbers could reach over one million. This is a very, very sobering reality banging on our front door right now. There is a broader response being prepared by the government of Iraq and humanitarian organizations looking for options in the northern area of Iraq to support an additional 700,000 displaced Iraqis if needed. Teams are setting up new massive refugee camps to the east of Mosul. That is in addition to the 35-40 refugee camps already open and operating in northern Iraq. One of these camps alone is home to 65,000 people.
Other concerns – with reports of an unusually high number of female-led households, many are concerned about families being torn apart – either by the conflict itself or in the recent movement of these families fleeing the violence. Until the refugees are settled, no one really knows.
Children – many families are fleeing the Mosul area on foot which means many hours of walking. It’s clear that not all families are able to stay in tact. In one refugee camp east of Mosul, 50 unaccompanied or separated children were helped in the chaos last week.
Our response – As John and three others visited the two recently liberated towns of Karmalish and Quaraqosh yesterday, the empty streets, tunnels in living rooms, and thousands of bombed and burned homes, were an eerie greeting and a reminder of the enormous amount of work and opportunity facing us. We will share more later about how Indigenous Ministries is looking at partnering with nationals here in the the future with the rebuilding phase, but for now, we are helping refugees and meeting the needs they have.
The need is great and we will continue to minister to refugees here. For so many, this is the love of Christ in action they simply don’t expect to receive, since those left in Mosul have been primarily Sunni Muslims. Please pray with us for the families of Iraq who are leaving their homes right now in Mosul; pray for the children, the women, the men. Pray for the elderly, the sick and the unborn. Pray for the pastors. Pray for the relief workers. Pray for the coalition forces and yes, pray for the ISIS soldiers to come to Christ.
To donate to the Iraq Relief Fund, please go to IndigenousMinistries.org and click the Donate Button in the right hand banner and select “Iraq Relief Project” in the drop down.
John & Dee